This post is a little bit longer than normal as it recaps my recent mission trip, please take the time to read until the end as I hope it will inspire and touch your life.
God recently rocked my world and reset all my expectations. I had prayed about going on a mission trip and originally signed up for one going to the LA Dream Center in June. I later was reminded of my love for New York City and saw there was an unexpected trip going there in March. I prayed about it asking God for the green light and then switched trips. I have a huge heart for that city and was excited to get the opportunity to share the love of Jesus with the people there. God grew my trust and faith in him tremendously during the fundraising process for that trip since I signed up late and the deadlines were fast approaching. God provided everything I needed within two weeks of signing up for the trip. It seemed like everything was falling into place for that trip and that God had ordered every step for it.
The week for the trip finally came. I was so excited! I was literally jumping for joy every time I thought about it. Little did I know my expectations and plans were about to get rocked and my faith tested. The week of the trip a huge blizzard was set to hit NYC. We arrived at the airport Monday morning and got to our gate with no problems. While sitting at our gate just before it was time to board, we found out our flight was delayed causing us to miss our second flight and since we were a big group there weren’t any other flights that day with enough seats. We rescheduled for the next day and all flights got canceled. We tried again on Wednesday and the same issue happened except now since so many flights had been canceled there were no more flights out that week to NYC for us. My heart dropped. What was God doing? I thought he had wanted me to go on this trip and now everything is falling apart. Why isn’t he answering my prayers for this trip now? These were all the thoughts running through my head as tears ran down my face. So many people contributed to this trip and so many prayers went into it and now what would happen? I had to seriously check my soul because I was so discouraged and doubtful in this moment. My mom quickly reminded me that there were too many prayers for this trip and that God had a plan.
In that moment God reminded me of his goodness. I had to remember that he is good no matter what and he always intends good in everything. I had to check myself because I realized I was being selfish. I wanted answers and I wanted things to go the way we planned. God also reminded me in this moment that his will is just for us to reach the lost and reach the unreachable. He taught me to keep open hands to his will instead of closed hands to my plans. I had to learn to let go. I had to learn to trust even more than I had before. I began to play a song by Lauren Daigle called Trust in You. In this song the lyrics say, “I’m letting go of every single dream, I lay each one down at your feet…When you don’t move the mountains I’m needing you to move…I will trust in you…Truth is you know what tomorrow brings… I want what you want Lord and nothing less.” God also gave me two scriptures to hold onto in this moment, Proverbs 16:9 and Isaiah 55:8. Both scriptures reminded me that God’s ways are higher than mine and he determines my path. I also prayed from a scripture from Daniel 3:18, I said, “God even if this doesn’t happen I will still serve you and praise you.” God definitely took that prayer serious because I would soon have to face that reality that we weren’t going to New York.
We soon found out we would still get to go on a mission trip that week to Nashville instead to share the love of Jesus with the refugees and immigrants living in that city. In that moment as I cried that God didn’t answer my prayer for NYC to happen, an overwhelming peace came over me about our new destination and I knew God had bigger plans for this trip. While New York is one of favorite places, Nashville is a close second. In fact, I almost moved to Nashville just after college, but God redirected me to Birmingham in that season. I learned that sometimes God redirects our path to remind us he’s in control, he's got better plans and remind us of things we forgot we loved. Nothing about this trip surprised God and he knew exactly all that would happen on it.
This trip ended up being incredible! I got to see a whole new side of Nashville and was reminded of my love and heart for this city. I had no idea it was a resettling city and that there are over 90 unreached people groups living there. We worked with City Church Network and their team to do training then go out into the communities for outreaches. God quickly began moving in my heart in so many ways. Our first outreach, we got to play with kids from over 6 different countries from Tanzania to Nepal. We also got to pray with several of their families. I met the sweetest grandmother as well from the Congo and even though there was a language barrier we still got to show her God’s love through acts of kindness. The next day we got to experience other cultures and religions. We visited a Laos Buddhist Temple, an Islamic Mosque and an Indian Hindu Temple. This was something previously outside my comfort zone because I was so unfamiliar with these religions, but experiencing them first hand allowed me to better understand their beliefs. We got to talk openly with each other about our beliefs and have a peaceful conversation. We did one more outreach on Saturday and got to talk to people from over 11 different countries in one apartment complex. It broke my heart to leave them as the kids asked if we could come back on Tuesday and hang out again. This trip definitely reopened my love for Nashville and even opened a place in my heart to one day adopt an international child.
During our training, the pastor of City Church Network asked us a conversation starter question when sharing the gospel. He asked, “What are you living for?” as a way to open up the question are they living for Jesus and do they have hope, however when I heard this question it hit me differently. I began to examine my own heart and what I’m living for. Yes I’m living for Jesus, but am I living selfishly or selflessly? The answer hurt. I’ve often been living selfishly asking God what he has for me, what his plans are for my life and when will he answer my prayers. While this isn’t always bad to ask, I began to lose sight that his call is for us to lay everything down and live for him- not to worry. His will is for us to reach the lost and then I was reminded of the verse He originally gave me for my mission trip in Romans 9:25. While I thought it was for NYC he showed me how much more it was for Nashville. We were reaching the unreachable and loving the unloved. The verse says, “As indeed it says in Hosea, I will call those who were not my people, my people and her who was not beloved, my beloved.” I began to see through God’s eyes instead of my own. I turned my heart outward towards the lost and the nations instead of inward toward my own desires. I realized he teaches us something through every moment and situation. I began to see how intentional he is in everything.
So my challenge to you is to ask yourself that question. What are you living for? Are you living for God? Are you living for yourself? Do you know God’s purpose for your life and your gifting’s? Are you using them to serve him? Who is in your own neighborhood or backyard that is unreached or unloved? Who has God called you to reach for him? We were taught about our Oikos map. Oikos is greek for household which can also mean your circle of influence. We each drew our map out with our name in the center then lines going out to the immediate people we can pray for and reach then from there the people those people can reach. So who is your Oikos? Who has God put in your path to reach for Him?
I hope my story has inspired you to reach those in your community and to be open to the plans God has for your life. Each of you has God-given gifts and a purpose from God to reach the lost and give them the hope of Jesus. Trust in God no matter what your current situation is and no matter what you have experienced or are experiencing now. God can redeem it and use you for his kingdom work. Lastly, I want to inspire you all to help reach the unreached and share the love of God until there is no place left that doesn't know His name!